Earthtone9 – In Resonance Nexus (REVIEW)

Legendary British metal band earthtone9 return with their aggressive fifth album In Resonance Nexus. This is a surprising (in a good way!) feat for a band who arguably hit their critical peak 24 years ago, delivering the kind of modern metal I’d expect from “new wave” British metalcore acts like While She Sleeps. This is sophisticated, forward-thinking songwriting from a band who have kept sharp despite their sporadic activity over the last decade.

But Sam, doesn’t modern metal bore you?? Of course it does, dear reader. There’s only so many kick drum triggers and Neural DSP guitar tones I can take before I am forced to dive back to a late 80s black metal album recorded in some backwater cave in Lapland, desperate for something with energy – something that sounds real. You know the kind of music I’m talking about. Bands that sound like they don’t use amps on stage or, even worse, don’t have a live bass player *shudder*.

earthtone9 deftly avoid sounding this uninteresting with one simple trick – using real, acoustic drums throughout the record. The band brought Bullet For My Valentine drummer Jason Bowld into the studio for this purpose and I think he absolutely smashed it. As he explained on his Instagram page, they used no triggers or MIDI in the drum recording process, just some EQ and compression. Obviously he is an extremely talented drummer in his own right and that shines through in his impressive playing, check out the end of lead single Oceanic Drift to see what I mean, but I think it is elevated even further by the choice of recording techniques.

Ok so the drums sound good, but what about the songs themselves? As with most LPs I think it really has its highlights and it starts strong with The Polyphony Of Animals. This cut feels a bit like the sonic equivalent of being punched in the temple, setting the energetic level of the album high and hinting that it won’t be dropping much for the next 44 minutes. This is certainly an in-your-face record but In Resonance Nexus comes with its quieter moments too, such as the sitar-laced introduction to Under The Snake. They keep the atmospheric vibes going until a surprising burst of energy (and corresponding groovy nu metal riff) to close out the song. Third Mutuality shows similar prowess, pulling off a nice soundscape throughout the first half. 

I found myself coming back to Black Swan Roulette again and again – that chorus hook is just too damn catchy. The arpeggiated guitars in the intro bring a bit of classic earthtone9 to the table, and vocalist Karl Middleton lays down some seriously powerful vocals as the song progresses. This is definitely going on heavy rotation for me.

This release comes at an exciting time for the band, with an appearance at ArcTanGent festival lined up for the 17th of August. A homecoming of sorts for the band, as the festival takes its name from their seminal 2000 album Arc Tan Gent. Mathematical nerds and trivia fans rejoice.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I wasn’t aware of earthtone9 before this album dropped into my inbox (in my defence, I was only a few months old when they signed their first record deal!), but I’m very glad I do now. There are some real gems in this album, and I can’t believe the band’s back catalogue had eluded my attention for so long. Give it a listen!

Words: Sam Christelow